[A little over a year ago, I had an serious accident in
my own shop involving my 3-HP Jet dust collector. The recent discussion about
dust collecting has given me the “shove” necessary to write about it and the
passage of time has dulled the memory to the point where I can now discuss it in
My wife is a sweetheart of a person, who I met for the first time while
attending kindergarten in our home town of Marshall MO. She beat me up that
first day of school. We were always friends during our school years and
continued to be friends right up to the time we were married. We’ve now been
married for 29 years and she has mellowed to the point where she seldom beats me
up anymore, since it upsets the dog when it happens.
About a year ago, my wife and I decided to “reward” ourselves for the last kid
going off to college with a trip to Alaska and a leisurely cruise down the
Inside Passage to Vancouver. It was to be a vacation of a lifetime for us.
Planning for the trip went smoothly, with the only glitch being my good wife
forgetting to make an appointment at the beauty parlor for the day before we
were to leave.
I spent the day before the trip straightening up my shop so that a burglar
wouldn’t trip over anything and sue me for his injuries. My wife came downstairs
in the afternoon to ask me if I would trim her hair just a tad so that it would
look better for the trip. Since I’ve been virtually bald since my days in
college, I have always just cut my own hair with an old pair of Oster clippers
that I bought while in college. There, I had learned the simple fact that food
is more important than a professional haircut.
In my shop, I have a 3-HP Jet dust collector that is fed via blast gates from
both ducts in the floor AND via a 25’ 4” flex hose that connects to the floor
sweep/planer/jointer or other movable tools. Since my wife’s hair is about 3”
long, I thought that it’d be nice to hold the clippers inside the 4” flex pipe
so that her hair would stand straight out from her head. This would make it
easier to get a smooth cut, in my opinion.
NOTE: FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MIGHT BE SENSITIVE, quit reading right here
For those of you continuing to read this tale of woe, here’s what happened. This
is absolutely true and unadulterated or exaggerated.
My dear wife of 29 years, and the mother of my children, placed her rump on a
stool I keep in the shop and proceeded to tell me exactly how much hair she
wanted removed from the top, sides and bangs. I walked over to the DC, fired it
up and closed off
all but the blast gate leading to the 4” flex hose. With the old Oster clippers
up inside the hose and me grasping the cutter end of them between my thumb and
forefinger, I could hold the 4” flex hose with the other hand and maneuver both
things easily. I leaned over my wife’s pretty face and made the first cut -
doing her bangs.
The hair stood out perfectly from her forehead and the results of that first
swipe was terrific. I figured that I would probably get some reward from a
beauty college for my wonderful invention. The second swipe was from
side-to-side just above and behind the bangs. It went equally well.
Then all hell broke loose.
I claim that my wife moved, but she claims that claim is merely caused by the
random firing of obviously defective neurons in my addled brain.
For the third swipe, I had walked around to the rear of my wife’s head and was
beginning to make the cut across the top of her head. Regardless of the cause (I
still say it had to be her fault), the damn 4” flex hose somehow sucked down
onto the top of her dear, sweet head. The clippers were running full bore inside
the pipe and doing the job that Mr. Oster had designed his clippers are designed
The suction of a DC hose isn’t great, but when even the most modest suction is
spread over the area of a 4” hose (that conforms well to the shape of a wife’s
head), there actually is a momentary “grab.” It startled my good wife, who let
out with a squall and tried to stand up/ kick me/ brush the 4” hose off of her
head and explain how I was mentally defective all at the same time. During all
this, I was attempting to knock the hose away from her head as well. I naturally
succeeded in dislodging it (actually, it probably fell off on its own), but it
fell to the OTHER side of her precious little head.
The result was that my wife now had perfectly trimmed bangs, followed by a bald
stripe that went damn near from ear-to-ear across the top of her head. Think of
it as an inverted Mohawk that has been rotated 90 degrees. This was NOT what my
wife had in mind when she asked me to trim a bit off of her hair.
This tale now goes from bad to worse, because I tried to remedy the problem by
tapering the hair toward the “kerf” and shortening up the rest. Saying that my
attempts to remedy the situation were unsuccessful would be like saying that
was unsuccessful at taming the Indians.
When that poor old woman finally got to the mirror, I knew that a personal Hell
for me was at hand. It was. Now I stand just over 6’, am in pretty good shape
and tip the scales at almost 280 pounds. My sweet wife and companion of all
those years couldn’t be over 5’ 4”, weighs a LOT less and has Multiple
Sclerosis. However, she took one look at her new “do” and took off after me like
a rabid Doberman. She runs pretty darn well when she’s mad. I learned something
else that afternoon. I learned that the sweet old woman had obviously been
kicked out of the Marine Corps because of her foul, potty mouth. The things that
woman said, and the things that she called me, have absolutely prevented her
from EVER enjoying the pleasures of heaven, in my humble opinion.
I got little sleep that night, since my good wife felt the need to wake me every
ten minutes or so to further discuss the consternation and distress I’d caused
her, and to share her emotions and feelings with me. Since Lorena Bobbit had
been in the news recently, I had very real additional reasons to remain awake
and sober. We were leaving that next morning and there was no time for her to
get a wig. We simply went ahead with the trip, with my wife looking (and acting)
like a madwoman. Needless to
say, the subject of her hair came up frequently. Whenever things would get a
little boring on the cruise, I’d tell her, “Vicki, that haircut looks like
hell,” and it would start all over again.
I tried to alleviate the tension by confidentially offering more rational
explanations to inquiring folks than that she was “having a bad-hair day.”
I explained to our cabin steward that my wife had been in a fight with a wildcat
while knife-hunting in Colorado. I told our waiter that she had she had almost
completely overcome a terribly contagious case of head lice. A waitress in the
lounge was told that medication had almost completely curbed my wife’s terrible
impulses with butcher knives. Generally, I’d just comment to curious folks that,
“She’s much calmer now that the medication is taking effect.”
A year later, my good wife STILL winces whenever she hears my DC winding up in
the shop. The hair has grown back and is as pretty as before my “trim,” but the
fleeting trust that my wife has for my ability to cut hair is certainly
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